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The Transpersonal Ego: Is There a New Formation?

An interview with Kaisa Puhakka
by Andrew Cohen


Kaisa Puhakka

In thinking deeply about this ever intriguing subject—What is ego?—for this issue of WIE, a captivating thought entered my curious mind one afternoon: Could it be that in these changing times that we are living in, in the fertile fields of the emerging spiritual paradigm of the new millennium, a new formation has emerged—the transpersonal ego? Could it be that in the wake of the disillusionment caused by so many fallen "enlightened" gurus and masters, the mantle of authority about all things spiritual has slowly but surely been usurped by the Ph.D.s, by psychologists who have a deep love for the spirit, transpersonal psychologists who have become experts not only in psychology but also in theoretical understanding about the highest reaches of spiritual attainment? Wait a minute, I thought, this is interesting—is there a new formation of the perennial ego being created here? One that knows more about itself, about its birth, evolution, ultimately empty nature and even death than any other formation of ego yet created? And the inevitable question arose: Could that kind of extraordinary knowledge about itself inadvertently be, for the ego, from the point of view of enlightenment, the most sophisticated defense mechanism ever evolved in the history of mankind? I had to find out! So I called Kaisa Puhakka, psychologist, Zen practitioner, transpersonal theorist, Clinical Faculty Director at the Institute of Transpersonal Psychology and all-around intellectual giant who single-handedly transcended and included Ken Wilber's theory of everything at the California Institute of Integral Studies's 1997 conference on "Ken Wilber and the Future of Transpersonal Inquiry."

Puhakka's responses to my questions about the "new formation" are revealing and indicative of the profound predicament of being a seeker of self/mind transcendence who at the same time is an expert on the subject. She wanted it to be clear to the reader, however, that in her view, any attachment or "position" of knowing was an inherent limitation and that maybe I, in my position as a "spiritual teacher," in asking these questions, was falling prey to the very predicament I was pointing to in others. WHO KNOWS?

What follows is a provocative, and hopefully fun, inquiry into the question: IS THERE A NEW FORMATION ON THE SPIRITUAL HORIZON?


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This article is from
Our Ego Issue


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